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Displaying items by tag: Marine Protected Areas

The Irish government has come under fire from environmental groups for failing to introduce the Marine Protected Areas Bill, which would commit to effectively protecting 30% of Ireland's seas by 2030, as promised since July 2023. The Fair Seas coalition, which has been leading the campaign for strong and ambitious legislation to protect marine biodiversity, warned that the government is running out of time to see the Bill introduced, debated, and enacted before the end of this government's term.

The Bill was due to be published in the Dáil before the Easter recess, but with that deadline having passed, the coalition is concerned that the government is now in real danger of missing its target. Dr Donal Griffin, Fair Seas Campaign Coordinator, said, "Every delay makes it harder for the government to achieve its target of designating 30% of Irish seas as Marine Protected Areas. This has knock-on consequences for Ireland's ability to meet its offshore renewable energy targets, as the offshore energy sector requires MPA legislation to help identify potential offshore development sites."

The Coalition also noted that the delays in introducing the Bill have real consequences for the State's ability to reach important international environmental and climate targets. Failure to deliver this Bill, which has been called for by a petition of 20,000 Irish people, will reflect very badly on the government parties come election time.

Rebecca Dudley, Science Officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, said, "The stakes are high, but the government still has time to publish this bill and move it quickly to Committee stage where amendments can be debated to further strengthen the legislation. All this is possible, but only if the government moves quickly once the Dáil resumes after Easter."

The Fair Seas coalition is calling for stakeholder engagement at every stage, clear delivery timeframes, and a robust management framework, with targeted, site-specific measures to ensure MPAs deliver for nature. The environmental group urged the Irish government to act quickly and deliver on its commitment to key environmental legislation.

Published in Marine Planning
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“It is not good enough to designate parts of the marine environment as conservation areas without talking to the people, groups and businesses which use and depend on an area for their livelihoods and recreation.”

That comment from the Campaign Manager of the environmental group Fair Seas - Dr Donal Griffin – highlights a need for better communication about creating protected maritime areas in Ireland’s coastal waters as pressure on the marine spatial area increases. What will be the effect of the Government’s declaration that Ireland will protect 30% of its marine area by 2030 on watersports and wider marine activities?

A year after the publication of that determination in the Government’s marine environment programme, a year ago this month, there remains uncertainty about the overall impacts on commercial and recreational use. Will there be effects on harbours, ports and shipping? What will be the effects on the fishing industry and aquaculture? What limitations will there be on the recreational use of the water – sailing, boating, angling, diving, kayaking, canoeing – amongst them?

There is concern about impacts on recreational boating as well as fishing and other marine industry in new marine protected areasThere is concern about impacts on recreational boating as well as fishing and other marine industry in new marine protected areas. What will be the effect of the Government’s declaration that Ireland will protect 30% of its marine area by 2030?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs); Special Protection Areas (SPAs); Special Areas of Conservation (SACs); Natura 2000 network designations, the Habitats Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive; the Birds Directive, the demands of offshore wind energy developers for OREs, Offshore Renewable Energy sites, mean that there is great pressure on the marine space.

After Minister for Heritage, Green Party TD Malcolm Noonan announced that an area of the seas off County Wexford,’ bigger than County Wexford itself,’ was being designated a new Special Protection Area for birds, Fair Seas - while welcoming the protection of seabirds - was critical of lack of consultation.

It was the second time this Minister had announced a big area designation, causing controversy. The last was in the North/West Irish Sea, about which fishing industry groups complained that promises of consultation were ignored.

In the same timeframe as his announcement, the senior Minister in the same Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien – announced a ‘consultation process’ about the seas off County Wexford, open until April 9.

Minister Noonan declined my request for an interview about this designation, but Dr Griffin, on my monthly Maritime Podcast, told me that the Government had “failed to consult with local stakeholders” and this issue must be improved.

Listen to the podcast below.


As the Government’s declaration to protect 30% of Ireland’s marine area by 2030 has raised questions about the impacts on commercial and recreational use of the waters, it is natural for people to have questions about marine protected areas (MPAs). Here are some commonly asked questions about MPAs:

What is a marine protected area?
A marine protected area is a designated region of the ocean, coast or Great Lakes that is protected by law to preserve and manage its natural and cultural resources. The goal of MPAs is to conserve and protect marine ecosystems, habitats, and species while allowing for sustainable use and enjoyment by people.

What activities are allowed in MPAs?
The activities allowed in MPAs depend on the type of protection level assigned to the area. Some MPAs allow for commercial and recreational fishing, while others prohibit all forms of extraction. In general, activities that harm or disturb the natural resources of an MPA are not allowed.

How are MPAs designated?
MPAs can be designated at the local, state, or national level. The process for designating an MPA involves scientific research, public consultation, and regulatory and legal measures. The government agencies responsible for managing MPAs also consult with local communities, stakeholders, and experts to ensure the area is managed effectively.

What are the benefits of MPAs?
MPAs provide a range of benefits, including protecting biodiversity, improving fisheries management, maintaining healthy ecosystems, and supporting local economies. MPAs can also provide recreational opportunities for activities such as snorkeling, diving, and wildlife watching.

How are MPAs enforced?
MPAs are enforced through a combination of monitoring, surveillance, and enforcement measures, such as patrols, fines, and prosecution of offenders. The penalties for violating MPA regulations can vary from small fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense.

These are just a few commonly asked questions about MPAs. As the government moves forward with its commitment to protect 30% of Ireland’s marine area, more information will become available about the specific impacts on commercial and recreational use of the waters.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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A coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental NGOs and networks says time is running out to protect Ireland’s marine environment.

With fewer than 20 Dáil sitting days left this year, Fair Seas says it is calling on the Government to enact the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Bill without delay.

Fair Seas wants to see binding targets committing to effectively 30% of the seas around Ireland by 2030, with 10% strictly protected.

Dr Donal Griffin, marine policy officer with Fair Seas, was one of the speakers at a Green Foundation Ireland seminar about Ocean Warming and Marine Biodiversity at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland in Dun Laoghaire last week.

The event highlighted how climate change is affecting earth’s oceans, with marine warming in the North Atlantic increasing by five degrees this year, according to UK-based scientists.

This has put at risk the survival of kelp forests and other important habitats and species, which play a crucial role as a home for marine biodiversity around Ireland, Great Britain and Europe’s Atlantic coast.

Dr Griffin said: “Ireland’s marine area is enormous. However, its stewardship by successive Governments has failed to deliver its full ecological, economic or social potential.

“At the end of the day, healthy seas help tackle the biodiversity and climate crisis. Healthy seas are better able to mitigate the impact of climate change at global scale by regulating the climate, sequestering carbon and absorbing atmospheric heat. Healthy seas are able to withstand and quickly recover from extreme events. They are also better positioned to help coastal communities adapt to the social and economic changes brought about by climate change.”

Dr Griffin added: “The MPA Bill was promised before the summer recess. We’re now quickly approaching the Christmas break… This legislation needs to be robust, fit-for-purpose and it’s essential we get it right.

“We want to see stakeholder engagement at every stage, clear delivery timeframes and a robust management framework, with targeted, site-specific measures to ensure MPAs deliver for nature.”

Other speakers at the event included former Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan; Karin Dubsky, director of Coastwatch; and Dr Saule Akhmetkaliyeva from the Blue Carbon Research Lab at UCD.

Published in Environment

Ireland has reaffirmed a pledge to protect 30 per cent of Ireland’s marine areas by 2030.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien reaffirmed the original commitment made by Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan at a seminar involving the European Commission in Malahide, Dublin.

In a new “Message from Malahide”, O’Brien told delegates from nine member states attending a European Commission seminar in Dublin about “Ireland’s significant progress in meeting the targets to protect marine areas as outlined in the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030”.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is hosting the three-day seminar in Malahide, Co. Dublin, together with the European Commission.

Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’BrienMinister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien

The event is one of a series and brings member states together to assess progress on the EU Biodiversity Strategy, an ambitious, long term plan for protecting nature and reversing the degradation of ecosystems.

The strategy contains specific actions and commitments, including targets for a larger EU–wide network of protected areas on land and sea.

This includes legal protection of at least 30% of EU terrestrial and marine areas by 2030.

The European Commission has requested member states to supply voluntary pledges indicating their contribution to the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 protected area targets.

“We have signalled our intention to meet these targets by increasing the marine area in our Natura Network from just over 2% of our waters two years ago, to almost 10% today,” O’Brien said.

“ New legislation, the Marine Protected Areas Bill is also in progress which will legally underpin the designation of Marine Protected Areas. These actions, along with my department’s pledge here today, demonstrate real commitment to protecting our marine biodiversity,” he said.

A number of national and European NGOs are attending the seminar.

Speakers include Andrea Vettori, Head of the Nature Conservation Unit at the EU’s DG Environment, EU Commission, scientific experts, and government officials from across Europe who outlined their own country pledges and approaches to meeting targets.

The Biogeographical seminar for the Atlantic and the Macaronesian marine biogeographical regions takes place from October 11th until 13th.

The seminar is hosted jointly by the European Commission’s DG Environment and NPWS.

Published in Marine Planning
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The Northern Ireland Inheritance Film Festival is set to feature the online premiere of 'Fair Seas: The Atlantic Northwest', a short film that showcases the perspectives of coastal communities from Donegal and Sligo who rely on the sea for their livelihood. Fair Seas produced the 14-minute documentary, which offers insights into the hopes, fears, and stories of local seafood producers, an angler, a diving instructor, and a walking guide throughout the North Donegal to Sligo region. The film highlights how the creation of Marine Protected Areas could provide a fresh approach to maritime life conservation that has supported these communities for generations.

The maritime region of Northwest is home to over 25 species of whales and dolphins, 38 species of seabirds, and a variety of rare and endangered species of sharks, skates, and rays. The adverse impact of climate change, pollution, a loss of biodiversity, and reduced fish stocks throughout the region are worth mentioning.

Peter McAuley filming with the Swimming Head Productions teamPeter McAuley filming with the Swimming Head Productions team

Fair Seas is campaigning for strong and ambitious Marine Protected Areas (MPA) legislation to be published as soon as possible to protect this vital resource and the coastal communities of Donegal and Sligo that rely on it. The group wants to see mandatory targets committing to effectively protecting 30% of the seas around Ireland by 2030 with 10% strictly protected. Fair Seas is calling for stakeholder engagement at every stage of the MPA designation with clear delivery timeframes as well as a robust management framework which clearly defines the varying degrees of site protection to ensure MPAs deliver for nature.

Aoife O’Mahony, Campaign Manager with Fair Seas said, “The Northwest coastline is breathtaking and our latest film explores some of the wildlife and biodiversity hidden beneath the waves. It is really important for us to hear the views of the people who make a living from the sea and to hear their concerns about the health of the ocean. There is also plenty of reason for hope and we all can act to make a difference. Donegal is famous for the large number of basking sharks that can be seen in its waters. This gentle giant was hunted nearly to extinction, now it is a protected species in Irish waters and making a comeback thanks to widespread public support.”

“Time is running out for Ireland to meet its targets to protect 30% of our seas and ocean by 2030. The Marine Protected Area Bill was promised in June 2023 and we are still waiting to see this crucial legislation. We’re asking the voters of Ireland’s Atlantic Northwest and across the country to add their voice to the calls to safeguard our seas, tell your elected representatives you want strong and ambitious marine protected area legislation. We must all act with ambition and urgency so that the full benefits of nature restored can reveal themselves in generations to come.”

Inheritance is an environmental festival which takes place three times a year. It aims to educate, inspire and raise awareness of contemporary environmental issues, and to showcase the work of independent filmmakers from all over the globe. The festival is live-streamed on the Inheritance website and screened on regional TV channels including Latest TV in Brighton, Northern Visions in Belfast, Sheffield Live! in Sheffield and KMTV in Kent.

The Fair Seas film will be shown on Belfast’s NVTV on Sunday, September 23rd from 9pm. The channel is available on Freeview 7 and Virgin Media 159, in Belfast, and Fair Seas film will be shown on Belfast’s NVTV on Sunday, September 23rd from 9pm. The channel is available on Freeview 7 and Virgin Media 159, in Belfast, and

‘Fair Seas: The Atlantic Northwest’ was part funded by the Networking and Marine Research Communications Awards, funded by the Marine Institute under the Marine Research Programme with the support of the Irish Government.

It was produced by Swimming Head Productions, an award-winning team specialising in quick-fire documentaries with a focus on heritage, science and the natural world.

Fair Seas has also produced a new postcard for Ireland’s Northwest Coast which features a basking shark swimming over a bed of seagrass. This postcard will be shared with ocean conservation organisations in this local area to highlight the beauty of this area of Ireland’s Coast.

Published in Maritime TV

Environmental groups have expressed dismay at the delay of the Marine Protected Areas Bill, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The eagerly awaited legislation will now not be published until after the Dáil recess — which has prompted the Fair Seas coalition to call for it to be made a priority when TDs return to Leinster House in mid September.

Fair Seas marine policy officer Donal Griffin said: “Time is running out for Ireland to meet its targets to protect 30% of our seas and ocean by 2030.”

The bill is sure to be a hot topic at a public event this Friday evening 4 August at the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Shannon Dolphin Centre in Kilrush, Co Clare to celebrate the South West Coast’s marine wildlife.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Planning
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The campaign group Fair Seas is hosting a free event focusing on marine protected areas (MPAs) in Co Clare next week (August 4th).

The evening of talk and discussions, entitled “Hope for the Greater Skellig Coast and Ireland’s Marine Protected Areas”, will be held in Kilrush, Co Clare, on August 4th.

Fair Seas has been pressing the government to publish the promised legislation on MPAs. The campaign named an expanse of water from Loop Head in Co Clare to Kenmare in Co Kerry as Ireland’s first “hope spot” at the start of this year.

“Although small at only 1.37% of our overall marine area, these waters support huge biodiversity including the highest densities of minke and humpback whales recorded in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone,” Irish Whale and Dolphin Group education and outreach officer Sibeál Regan says.

“Effectively protecting this upwelling area teeming with life is critical to ensuring a healthy sea,” she says, describing Kerry and Clare’s marine life as “truly spectacular”.

Regan will talk at the Kilrush event about whales, dolphins and porpoises off the west coast and about the Fair Seas campaign to protect, conserve and restore Ireland’s unique marine environment.

Fair Seas estimates that €55 million will be needed to adequately fund MPA designation and ongoing management until 2030. It has published a report which estimates that approximately €7 million would be required over the next 12 months to reach the target of fully protecting 10% of Ireland’s ocean and seas.

Fair Seas is also inviting people to complete an online survey, answering questions about the health of Ireland’s marine environment, how they use the seas and what actions they believe the Irish government needs to be taking to manage this environment.

The ocean literacy survey will remain open until the end of the summer, it says, and information collected will “be held securely and treated in the strictest confidence”.

Fair Seas says the survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and consent can be withdrawn at any time.

The talk and panel discussion at the Shannon Dolphin Centre, Merchant’s Quay, Kilrush, Co Clare, runs from 6 pm to 8 pm on Friday, August 4th.

Published in Marine Planning
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Birdwatch Ireland has welcomed a decision to extend marine protection for a North Atlantic sea area outside of Ireland’s exclusive economic zone.

The seafloor of the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea Basin (NACES) has been given marine protected area (MPA) designation by 15 governments, including Ireland, which are signatories to the OSPAR convention.

The 600,000 km2 area is east of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and north of the Azores.

“The NACES MPA is a vital wintering ground for the globally threatened Atlantic puffin, a species in rapid decline and one which also breeds in Ireland during the summer and is much loved,” Birdwatch Ireland marine policy and advocacy officer Sinead Loughran said.

She described the decision is “an incredibly important first step to ensure that this biodiversity hotspot in the North Atlantic high seas” can continue to support an “ abundance and diversity of marine life”.

The sea basin which is the size of continental France, was designated in 2021, after research by BirdLife International showed that five million seabirds, including puffins breeding on Skellig Michael, use it every year.

The extension to protect the seafloor was agreed by OSPAR signatories in Oslo, Norway, last week.

This is due to the location’s significance for a “multitude” of marine species and the value of its seabed habitats.

Evidence gathered over the last two years also shows the NACES MPA is key marine habitat for blue and fin whales, leatherback and loggerhead turtles, basking sharks, European eels and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The MPA’s seafloor habitat includes over 30 seamounts, with vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as deep-sea sponges and coral gardens, serving as “crucial pillars for supporting a wide array of vibrant ecosystems”.

Over 16,400 people had supported a petition by BirdWatch Ireland and BirdLife International for better protection of the site.

The organisations say it is now “essential that OSPAR develops a management plan for the site”.

The 1992 OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic involves Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain, along with the EU.

Published in Marine Planning

An ecological analysis of the western Irish Sea for potential marine protected areas warns of “significant spatial squeeze” if both offshore wind farms and commercial fishing are excluded from sensitive habitats.

As The Sunday Independent reports, a report for the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has recommended a list of 40 sensitive species and habitats in a sea area which has been targeted for extensive offshore windfarm development.

The study was led by Prof Tasman Crowe, director of University College, Dublin’s Earth Institute, and aims to inform new legislation on marine protected areas (MPAs).

It focuses on the sea area extending from Carlingford Lough to Carnsore Point, where a number of offshore wind farms will be built.

The Government has committed to designating 30 per cent of Ireland’s seas as marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2030 in line with EU commitments, and a Bill is currently before the Oireachtas.

The new report acknowledges the challenges of overlapping competing interests, given that the western Irish Sea is a busy shipping area and a key area for commercial fishing, among other activities.

Angel shark, basking shark, tope, American plaice and the European eel are among the 40 species and habitats identified for MPA designation.

Among the 40 listed, 18 of the features or species are already on protected lists.

For instance, the European eel and angel shark are “red-listed” or critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Carbon-rich muddy habitats are included, as they can capture carbon to mitigate global warming.

The barrel jellyfish Photo: Mark ThomasThe barrel jellyfish Photo: Mark Thomas

The barrel jellyfish is among the species listed, as it provides food for species of commercial or conservation importance.

Native or European flat oysters which were fished to extinction in the Irish Sea are listed as being “suitable for restoration”.

The report says the Irish Sea has a “long history of exploitation ” and is “far from pristine”, but says there are over 1,700 species and it is a “biocultural hotspot”.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Marine Planning
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The country’s major fishing organisations have called on the Oireachtas Committee dealing with the development of Marine Protected Areas to listen to them as it has to environmental organisations.

The country’s major fishing representative organisations have claimed that the Committee’s review process of the Marine Protected Areas Bill is “flawed” because it invited and heard submissions from environment groups but did not invite the fishing industry.

The Irish South and East Fish Producers, the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Organisation, the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation and the Aquaculture Committee of the Irish Farmers’ Association have lodged their “strongest objection at the failure to include us in consultation.”

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage is dealing with the MPAs Bill because it has been given Government responsibility for them and the Maritime Regulatory Authority (MARA).

TDs and Senators are members and met with environmental organisations - Fair Seas, BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Wildlife Trust, and Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

The fishing organisations say they “wish to work constructively with the Committee but need to be afforded equality and respect to represent the views of their sector.”

They have sent a six-page document to the Committee, outlining their views on the MPAs Bill “on the basis we will be called before to give evidence in the same manner which was afforded to all other interested parties.”

“First and foremost, the first and aquaculture industries are not opposed to MPAs,” the document says. “We recognise and understand the need for and the value of MPAs both in the wider environmental and conservation context and in the specific value they can add to existing fisheries and food security by improving sustainability, if implemented effectively and based on scientific evidence. However, there is a need to acknowledge that Ireland’s marine area is also part of a food production system, and fisheries and aquaculture provide a vital source of protein. Balance is needed to ensure food security, economic activities, sustainable and resilient fisheries, protection of diversity, and support the fight against climate change.”

Published in Marine Planning
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General Information on using Waterways Ireland inland navigations

Safety on the Water

All users of the navigations are strongly recommended to make themselves aware of safety on the water for whatever activity they are involved in and to read the advice offered by the various governing bodies and by:

The Dept. of Transport, Ireland: and The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, UK, The RNLI – Water Safety Ireland for information in terms of drowning prevention and water safety.

Registration of Vessels

All vessels using the Shannon Navigation, which includes the Shannon-Erne Waterways and the Erne System must be registered with Waterways Ireland. Only open undecked boats with an engine of 15 horsepower or less on the Shannon Navigation, and vessels of 10 horsepower or less on the Erne System, are exempt. Registration is free of charge.

Craft registration should be completed online at:

Permits for use of the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation

All vessels using the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation must display appropriate valid Permit(s) i.e A Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (€126) and if not intending to move every five days, an Extended Mooring Permit (€152).

Permit applications should be completed online at:

Passage on the Royal and Grand Canals – Dublin Area

For boat passage through the locks east of Lock 12 into / out of Dublin on either the Royal or Grand Canals, Masters are requested to contact the Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (M-F 9.30am-4.30pm) on tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or email [email protected] prior to making passage in order to plan the necessary lock-keeping assistance arrangements.

On the Grand Canal a minimum of two days notice prior to the planned passage should be given, masters should note that with the exception of pre-arranged events, a maximum of 2 boats per day will be taken through the locks, travelling either east or west.

Movements in or out of the city will be organised by prior arrangement to take place as a single movement in one day. Boaters will be facilitated to travel the system if their passage is considered to be safe by Waterways Ireland and they have the valid permit(s) for mooring and passage.

Newcomen Lifting Bridge

On the Royal Canal two weeks’ notice of bridge passage (Newcomen Lifting Bridge) is required for the pre-set lift date, and lock assistance will then also be arranged. A minimum of 2 boats is required for a bridge lift to go ahead.

Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (Tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or [email protected] ) is the point of contact for the bridge lift.

A maximum number of boats passing will be implemented to keep to the times given above for the planned lifts (16 for the Sat / Sun lifts & 8 for the weekday lifts). Priority will be given on a first come first served basis.

On day of lift, boaters and passengers must follow guidance from Waterways Ireland staff about sequence of passage under bridge & through Lock 1, and must remain within signed and designated areas.

Events Held on the Waterways

All organised events taking place on the waterways must have the prior approval of Waterways Ireland. This is a twelve week process and application forms must be accompanied with the appropriate insurance, signed indemnity and risk assessment. The application should be completed on the Waterways Ireland events page at :

Time Limits on Mooring in Public Harbours

On the Shannon Navigation and the Shannon-Erne Waterway craft may berth in public harbours for five consecutive days or a total of seven days in any one month.

On the Erne System, revised Bye Laws state that: No master or owner shall permit a vessel, boat or any floating or sunken object to remain moored at or in the vicinity of any public mooring, including mooring at any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location, for more than 3 consecutive days and shall not moor at that same mooring or any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location within the following 3 consecutive days without prior permission by an authorised official.

Winter Mooring on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon Erne Waterway

Winter mooring may be availed of by owners during the period 1 Nov to 31 Mar by prior arrangement and payment of a charge of €63.50 per craft. Craft not availing of Winter Mooring must continue to comply with the “5 Day Rule”. Winter Mooring applications should be completed online at :

Owners should be aware that electricity supply and water supply to public moorings is disconnected for the winter months. This is to protect against frost damage, to reduce running costs and to minimise maintenance requirements during the winter months.

Vessel owners are advised that advance purchasing of electricity on the power bollards leading up to the disconnection date should be minimal. Electricity credit existing on the bollards will not be recoverable after the winter decommissioning date. Both services will be reinstated prior to the commencement of the next boating season.

Smart Cards

Waterways Ireland smart cards are used to operate locks on the Shannon Erne Waterway, to access the service blocks, to use the pump-outs along the navigations, to avail of electrical power at Waterways Ireland jetties.

Berthing in Public Harbours

Masters are reminded of the following:

  • Equip their vessel with mooring lines of appropriate length and strength and only secure their craft to mooring bollards and cleats provided for this purpose.
  • Ensure the available berth is suitable to the length of your vessel, do not overhang the mooring especially on finger moorings on floating pontoon moorings.
  • Ensure mooring lines, electric cables and fresh water hoses do not create a trip hazard on public jetties for others users.
  • Carry sufficient fenders to prevent damage to your own vessel, other vessels and WI property.
  • Allow sufficient space between your vessel and the vessel ahead /astern (c.1m) for fire safety purposes and /or to recover somebody from the water.
  • Do not berth more than two vessels side by side and ensure there is safe access/egress at all times between vessels and onto the harbour itself.
  • Do not berth in such a way to prevent use of harbour safety ladders, slipways or pump-outs.
  • Do not allow the bow of your vessel to overhang the walkway of a floating mooring thus creating a hazard for others with an overhanging anchor or bow fendering.
  • Animals are not allowed to be loose or stray at any time.
  • Harbour and jetty infrastructure such as railings, power pedestals, fresh water taps, electric light poles, safety bollards, ladders etc are not designed for the purpose of mooring craft , they will not bear the strain of a vessel and will be damaged.
  • At Carrybridge on the Erne System, Masters of vessels are not permitted to use stern on mooring. Masters of vessels must use the mooring fingers for mooring of vessels and for embarkation / disembarkation from vessels.

Passenger Vessel Berths

Masters of vessels should not berth on passenger vessel berths where it is indicated that an arrival is imminent. Passenger vessels plying the navigations generally only occupy the berths to embark and disembark passengers and rarely remain on the berths for extended periods or overnight.

Lock Lead-in Jetties

Lead-in jetties adjacent to the upstream and downstream gates at lock chambers are solely for the purpose of craft waiting to use the lock and should not be used for long term berthing.

Vessel Wake

Vessel wake, that is, the wave generated by the passage of the boat through the water, can sometimes be large, powerful and destructive depending on the hull shape and engine power of the vessel. This wake can be detrimental to other users of the navigation when it strikes their craft or inundates the shoreline or riverbank. Masters are requested to frequently look behind and check the effect of their wake / wash particularly when passing moored vessels, on entering harbours and approaching jetties and to be aware of people pursuing other activities such as fishing on the riverbank.

Speed Restriction

A vessel or boat shall not be navigated on the Shannon Navigation at a speed in excess of 5 kph when within 200 metres of a bridge, quay, jetty or wharf, when in a harbour or canal or when passing within 100 metres of a moored vessel or boat.

Vessels navigating the Shannon-Erne Waterway should observe the general 5 kph speed limit which applies along the waterway. This is necessary in order to prevent damage to the banks caused by excessive wash from vessels.

Vessels navigating the Erne System should observe the statutory 5kt / 6mph / 10kph speed limit areas.

A craft on the Royal and Grand canals shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 6km per hour.

A craft on the Barrow Navigation shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 11km per hour except as necessary for safe navigation in conditions of fast flow.

Bank Erosion

Narrow sections of all the navigations are particularly prone to bank erosion due to the large wash generated by some craft. Masters are requested to be vigilant and to slow down to a speed sufficient to maintain steerage when they observe the wash of their craft inundating the river banks.

Unusual Waterborne Activity

Unusual waterborne vessels may be encountered from time to time, such as, hovercraft or amphibious aircraft / seaplanes. Masters of such craft are reminded to apply the normal “Rule of the Road” when they meet conventional craft on the water and to allow extra room to manoeuvre in the interest of safety.

Sailing Activity

Mariners will encounter large numbers of sailing dinghies from late June to August in the vicinity of Lough Derg, Lough Ree and Lower Lough Erne. Sailing courses are marked by yellow buoys to suit weather conditions on the day. Vessels should proceed at slow speed and with due caution and observe the rules of navigation when passing these fleets, as many of the participants are junior sailors under training.


Mariners should expect to meet canoes and vessels under oars on any part of the navigations, but more so in the vicinity of Athlone, Carrick-on-Shannon, Coleraine, Enniskillen and Limerick. Masters are reminded to proceed at slow speed and especially to reduce their wash to a minimum when passing these craft as they can be easily upset and swamped due to their very low freeboard and always be prepared to give way in any given traffic situation.


Canoeing is an adventure sport and participants are strongly recommended to seek the advice of the sport’s governing bodies i.e Canoeing Ireland and the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland, before venturing onto the navigations.

Persons in charge of canoes are reminded of the inherent danger to these craft associated with operating close to weirs, sluice gates, locks and other infrastructure particularly when rivers are in flood and large volumes of water are moving through the navigations due to general flood conditions or very heavy localised precipitation e.g. turbulent and broken water, stopper waves. Shooting weirs is prohibited without prior permission of Waterways Ireland.

Canoeists should check with lockkeepers prior entering a lock to ensure passage is done in a safe manner. Portage is required at all unmanned locks.

Canoe Trail Network – "Blueways"

Masters of powered craft are reminded that a canoe trail network is being developed across all navigations and to expect more organised canoeing along these trails necessitating slow speed and minimum wash when encountering canoeists, rowing boats etc

Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals – Lough Key

It is expected that work on Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals on Lough Key will be completed in 2021. Access to these canals will be for non-powered craft only, eg canoes, kayaks, rowing boats.

Fast Powerboats and Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis)

Masters of Fast Powerboats (speed greater than 17kts) and Personal Watercraft (i.e.Jet Skis) are reminded of the inherent dangers associated with high speed on the water and especially in the confines of small bays and narrow sections of the navigations. Keeping a proper look-out, making early alterations to course and /or reducing speed will avoid conflict with slower vessels using the navigation. Personal Watercraft are not permitted to be used on the canals.

Towing Waterskiers, Wakeboarders, Doughnuts etc

Masters of vessels engaged in any of these activities are reminded of the manoeuvring constraints imposed upon their vessel by the tow and of the added responsibilities that they have to the person(s) being towed. These activities should be conducted in areas which are clear of conflicting traffic. It is highly recommended that a person additional to the master be carried to act as a “look-out” to keep the tow under observation at all times.

Prohibition on Swimming

Swimming in the navigable channel, particularly at bridges, is dangerous and is prohibited due to the risk of being run over by a vessel underway in the navigation.

Age Restrictions on operating of powered craft

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the minimum age for operating of powered craft. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a personal watercraft or a fast power craft shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years does not operate or control the craft

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft powered by an engine with a rating of more than 5 horse power or 3.7 kilowatts shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 12 years does not operate or control the craft.

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Lifejackets and PFD’s are the single most important items of personal protective equipment to be used on a vessel and should be worn especially when the vessel is being manoeuvred such as entering / departing a lock, anchoring, coming alongside or departing a jetty or quayside.

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the wearing of Personal Flotation Devices. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall ensure, that there are, at all times on board the craft, sufficient suitable personal flotation devices for each person on board.

- A person on a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) of less than 7 metres length overall shall wear a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of decked craft, other than when the craft is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years complies with paragraph above.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft), shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years wears a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of a decked craft other than when it is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person wears a suitable personal flotation device, at all times while – (a) being towed by the craft, (b) on board a vessel or object of any kind which is being towed by the craft.

Further information is available at:

Firing Range Danger Area – Lough Ree

The attention of mariners is drawn to the Irish Defence Forces Firing Range situated in the vicinity of buoys No’s 2 and 3, on Lough Ree on the Shannon Navigation. This range is used regularly for live firing exercises, throughout the year, all boats and vessels should stay clear of the area marked with yellow buoys showing a yellow "X" topmark and displaying the word "Danger".

Shannon Navigation, Portumna Swing Bridge Tolls

No attempt should be made by Masters’ of vessels to pay the bridge toll while making way through the bridge opening. Payment will only be taken by the Collector from Masters when they are secured alongside the jetties north and south of the bridge.

Navigating from Killaloe to Limerick on the Shannon Navigation

The navigation from Killaloe to Limerick involves passage through Ardnacrusha locks, the associated headrace and tailrace and the Abbey River into Limerick City. Careful passage planning is required to undertake this voyage. Considerations include: lock passage at Ardnacrusha, water flow in the navigation, airdraft under bridges on Abbey River in Limerick, state of tide in Limerick

Users are advised to contact the ESB Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station (00353 (0)87 9970131) 48 hours in advance of commencing their journey to book passage through the locks at Ardnacrusha. It is NOT advised to undertake a voyage if more than one turbine is operating (20MW), due to the increased velocity of flow in the navigation channel, which can be dangerous. To ascertain automatically in real time how many turbines are running, users can phone +353 (0)87 6477229.

For safety reasons the ESB has advised that only powered craft with a capacity in excess of 5 knots are allowed to enter Ardnacrusha Headrace and Tailrace Canals.

Passage through Sarsfield Lock should be booked on +353-87-7972998, on the day prior to travel and it should be noted also that transit is not possible two hours either side of low water.

A Hydrographic survey in 2020 of the navigation channel revealed that the approach from Shannon Bridge to Sarsfield Lock and the Dock area has silted up. Masters of vessels and water users are advised to navigate to the Lock from Shannon bridge on a rising tide one or two hours before High Tide.

Lower Bann Navigation

The attention of all users is drawn to the “Users Code for the Lower Bann”, in particular to that section covering “Flow in the River” outlining the dangers for users both on the banks and in the navigation, associated with high flow rates when the river is in spate. Canoeists should consult and carry a copy of the “Lower Bann Canoe Trail” guide issued by the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland. Users should also contact the DfI Rivers Coleraine, who is responsible for regulating the flow rates on the river, for advisory information on the flow rates to be expected on any given day.

DfI Rivers Coleraine. Tel: 0044 28 7034 2357 Email: [email protected]

Lower Bann Navigation – Newferry – No wake zone

A No Wake Zone exists on the Lower Bann Navigation at Newferry. Masters of vessels are requested to proceed at a slow speed and create no wake while passing the jetties and slipways at Newferry.

Overhead Power Lines (OHPL) and Air draft

All Masters must be aware of the dangers associated with overhead power lines, in particular sailing vessels and workboats with cranes or large air drafts. Voyage planning is a necessity in order to identify the location of overhead lines crossing the navigation.

Overhead power line heights on the River Shannon are maintained at 12.6metres (40 feet) from Normal Summer level for that section of navigation, masters of vessels with a large air draft should proceed with caution and make additional allowances when water levels are high.

If a vessel or its equipment comes into contact with an OHPL the operator should NOT attempt to move the vessel or equipment. The conductor may still be alive or re-energise automatically. Maintain a safe distance and prevent third parties from approaching due to risk of arcing. Contact the emergency services for assistance.

Anglers are also reminded that a minimum ground distance of 30 metres should be maintained from overhead power lines when using a rod and line.

Submarine Cables and Pipes

Masters of vessels are reminded not to anchor their vessels in the vicinity of submarine cables or pipes in case they foul their anchor or damage the cables or pipes. Look to the river banks for signage indicating their presence.

Water Levels - Precautions

Low Water Levels:

When water levels fall below normal summer levels masters should be aware of:


To reduce the risk of grounding masters should navigate on or near the centreline of the channel, avoid short cutting in dog-legged channels and navigating too close to navigation markers.

Proceeding at a slow speed will also reduce “squat” effect i.e. where the vessel tends to sit lower in the water as a consequence of higher speed.


Reduced slipway length available under the water surface and the possibility of launching trailers dropping off the end of the concrete apron.

More slipway surface susceptible to weed growth requiring care while engaged in launching boats, from slipping and sliding on the slope. Note also that launching vehicles may not be able to get sufficient traction on the slipway once the craft is launched to get up the incline.

Bank Erosion

Very dry riverbanks are more susceptible to erosion from vessel wash.

Lock Share

Maximising on the number of vessels in a lock will ensure that the total volume of water moving downstream is decreased. Lock cycles should be used for vessels travelling each way.

High Water Levels:

When water levels rise above normal summer level masters should be aware of:


Navigation marks will have reduced height above the water level or may disappear underwater altogether making the navigable channel difficult to discern.

In narrow sections of the navigations water levels will tend to rise more quickly than in main streams and air draft at bridges will likewise be reduced.

There will also be increased flow rates particularly in the vicinity of navigation infrastructure such as bridges, weirs, locks etc where extra care in manoeuvring vessels will be required.

Harbours and Jetties

Due care is required in harbours and at slipways when levels are at or near the same level as the harbour walkways' as the edge will be difficult to discern especially in reduced light conditions. It is advised that Personal Flotation Devices be worn if tending to craft in a harbour in these conditions.


Slipways should only be used for the purpose of launching and recovering of water craft or other objects from the water. Before using a slipway it should be examined to ensure that the surface has sufficient traction/grip for the intended purpose such as launching a craft from a trailer using a vehicle, that there is sufficient depth of water on the slipway to float the craft off the trailer before the concrete apron ends and that the wheels of the trailer do not drop off the edge of the slipway. That life-saving appliances are available in the vicinity, that the vehicle is roadworthy and capable of coping with the weight of the trailer and boat on the incline. It is recommended that slipway operations are conducted by two persons.

Caution to be Used in Reliance upon Aids to Navigation

The aids to navigation depicted on the navigation guides comprise a system of fixed and floating aids to navigation. Prudent mariners will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation, particularly a floating aid to navigation. With respect to buoys, the buoy symbol is used to indicate the approximate position of the buoy body and the ground tackle which secures it to the lake or river bed. The approximate position is used because of the practical limitations in positioning and maintaining buoys in precise geographical locations. These limitations include, but are not limited to, prevailing atmospheric and lake/river conditions, the slope of and the material making up the lake/river bed, the fact that the buoys are moored to varying lengths of chain, and the fact that the buoy body and/or ground tackle positions are not under continuous surveillance. Due to the forces of nature, the position of the buoy body can be expected to shift inside and outside the charted symbol.

Buoys and perches are also moved out of position or pulled over by those mariners who use them to moor up to instead of anchoring. To this end, mariners should always monitor their passage by relating buoy/perch positions with the published navigation guide. Furthermore, a vessel attempting to pass close by always risks collision with a yawing buoy or with the obstruction that the buoy or beacon/perch marks.

Masters of Vessels are requested to use the most up to date Navigation guides when navigating on the Inland Waterways.

Information taken from Special Marine Notice No 1 of 2023